Get Super Strong: A Woman’s Strength Training Program

Note from Pavel: Several weeks ago Lauren asked me, “How strong does a woman need to be to be considered ‘strong’?” I thought it was a question that should be answered by women (strong women, naturally). I asked Lauren to answer it on here, and then I asked a few more strong SF sisters for their answers. We will be publishing them—along with training advice for women ready to be strong—over the next several months.

A Woman's Strength Training Program

“Wow, she must be really strong.” When I hear these words I can tell you that the ability to execute heavy presses or heavy front squats is not what first comes to my mind. What does come to my mind is a person, a female, who overcame a significant challenge. Someone who was forced to deal with a life-altering experience and pushed through it with strength that was found from within.

I have stood in the shoes of a shy little girl, an awkward teenager, a college student, a single woman, a wife, a career woman, and a mother. I remember clearly how it was/is to be in each element. Each one required a certain amount of strength to overcome the challenges and tribulations that were brought to the surface.

As for physical strength, there are women who are born with little and have to work ten times as hard to acquire the same levels as their naturally gifted counterparts. If this so-called “weak” woman decides to train very hard, after many years of perseverance, she can be nearly as strong as the naturally strong woman.

But how strong is strong enough? As a female, mother, wife, and coach, I’m here to tell you that strength is relative. The woman in the wheelchair who learned how to walk again, despite three doctors telling her she would be bound to that chair forever, is the very meaning of strength. The day you stop working to be strong, is the day you start getting weak.

The Standards of a Super Strong Woman

When defining what is considered to be a physically strong female, there are measurable standards I personally feel are necessary. Below is a list of specific measures of strength that makes a female super strong, in my opinion—at minimum, and going on a percentage of body weight:

  • Dead hang pull-ups — 3 or more
  • Push-ups — 8 or more
  • Barbell deadlift — 150% body weight
  • Single leg deadlift — 60% body weight
  • Single arm press — 30% body weight
  • Kettlebell swings — 60% body weight
  • Double kettlebell front squat — 60% body weight
  • Get-up — 30% body weight
  • Kettlebell snatch — 40% body weight

Note: I am providing a simple program to start you on your journey to achieve the standards listed above of what I consider to be a “super strong” woman. Feel free to follow the program below to be on your way to achieving these standards.

Remember, strength is not always about the final product and it’s not always about how much you can lift, but it is about where you started from and where you are now. Strength is a life-long journey.

A Woman's Strength Training Program

Get Super Strong: A Woman’s Strength Training Program

Choose a challenging kettlebell size for your level, but follow these two rules:

  1. You must be able to perform a perfect repetition with the size you choose.
  2. Do not go to failure.

Practice Session 1

A. Get-Ups—2 reps each side
Heavy Swings—10 reps

Rest and repeat for a total of 3 sets.

B. Goblet Squats—5 reps
Pull-ups—1-5 reps

Rest and repeat for a total of 3 sets.

Practice Session 2

A. Barbell or Double Kettlebell Deadlifts—3-5 reps
Military Press—3-5 reps each side

Rest and repeat for a total of 3 sets.

B. Kettlebell Snatch—descending ladder, 6 each side, 5, each side, until you get to one.  No rest.

Practice Session 3

Go through each exercise and perform 1 rep. Once you have completed the five exercises listed, begin again by performing 2 reps, then 3 reps. Once you have completed 3 reps of each, start again by taking it down to 2 and then 1.

You will practice 9 total perfect reps per exercise throughout the entire practice. If you are advanced, you may go up to 4 reps. If you can go up to 5, you may not be going heavy enough.

  1. Get-Up
  2. Pull-Up
  3. Double Front Squat
  4. Push-Up
  5. Single-Leg Deadlift

Super Strong Training: Weeks 1-2

  • Monday: Practice Session 1
  • Tuesday:  Active Recovery, i.e. Restorative Yoga or/and Joint Mobility
  • Wednesday: Practice Session 2
  • Thursday:  Active Recovery, i.e. Restorative Yoga or/and Joint Mobility
  • Friday: Practice Session 3
  • Saturday: Active Recovery i.e. Restorative Yoga or/and Joint Mobility
  • Sunday: Walking, Hill Sprints, or Get-Up Practice

Super Strong Training: Weeks 3-4

  • Monday: Practice Session 1
  • Tuesday: Practice Session 2
  • Wednesday: Active Recovery, i.e. Joint Mobility
  • Thursday: Practice Session 3
  • Friday: Practice Session 1
  • Saturday: Active Recovery, i.e. Restorative Yoga or/and Joint Mobility
  • Sunday: Practice Session 2

Super Strong Training: Weeks 5-6

  • Monday: Mobility and Walking
  • Tuesday: Practice Session 3
  • Wednesday Practice Session 1
  • Thursday:  Easy Swings followed by Mobility and Walking
  • Friday: Practice Session 2
  • Saturday: Practice Session 3
  • Sunday: Active Recovery, i.e. Restorative Yoga or/and Joint Mobility (or easy practice)

Follow this simple program for six weeks. Keep a journal and record your practice sessions. Most of all, listen to your body. I look forward to hearing about your journey from weak to super strong.

Lauren Brooks
Lauren Brooks, SFG Team Leader, is the owner of On The Edge Fitness in Encinitas, California.

Lauren earned her B.S. in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Fitness, Nutrition, and Health from San Diego State University in 2002.

She went on to become kettlebell certified under Pavel Tstasouline in 2005 and currently holds certifications as an SFG Team Leader, StrongFirst Barbell Lifting, ACE Fitness Trainer, Clinical Nutritionist, Functional Movement Specialist, TRX and Battling Ropes.

Teaching a variety of people, especially females and mothers, how to be strong, empowered, and ready for life is what she does.

Lauren, mother of two little girls, continues to lead by example. You can find out more about Lauren by visiting her visiting On the Edge Fitness and her blog
Lauren Brooks on FacebookLauren Brooks on InstagramLauren Brooks on PinterestLauren Brooks on TwitterLauren Brooks on Youtube

55 thoughts on “Get Super Strong: A Woman’s Strength Training Program

  • Back in 1999 Strength Coach Ian King published training programs involving bodyweight movements, also suggesting that you should not use external loading before you can master your own bodyweight. These concepts were published in his books as well as on T-mag.com. One of his movements was the single leg deadlift, which he called the King Deadlift at that time.

    I note that no credit is usually given to sources of information on this site (or many other sites on the internet, including dragondoor). Do you reference your information sources anywhere on this site at all?

  • Hiiii!

    Love the article 🙂

    I am curious to hear your opinion on the next level of strength standards for women. You’d consider the above numbers “strong”, what would you consider “super strong” or even just “Really Strong”? For those of us who have surpassed the numbers above, it’s always nice to quantify goals and numbers, and have a very specific percentage in mind!

    Thanks! 🙂

    • It’s not uncommon for women to come into a fitness program not being able to do a push up or a pull up. Master Push ups first, they’re easier. Do timed sets of “girl push ups” to see how many you can do in 20 seconds. Work to improve that. Do “real” push-ups on steps so that your feet are on the floor and you are pushing up off of the third or fourth step. Go lower steps as you get stronger. Do lots of planks because they build the stabilizing muscles that help you do a push up. You should be able to build up doing one in about 4 weeks even if you are totally out of shape. Pull-ups can be achieved by practicing on the machines at the gym that provide a weighted resistance to assist you or by using resistance bands to help. Pull-ups are harder and I think for women, they usually lock into place as weight comes down and muscle mass increases. Also any weight lifting exercises like military press, shoulder press and row which improve the strength of arms and back will help.

  • Hi Lauren,

    I work best when I have a goal in sight so thank you for the challenge. I am on week three and am already having to bump up in weight on some exercises and love the feeling of increased strength. I started out being able to accomplish some of the exercises at the goal weights but am really enjoying experiencing the heavy work.

    Thanks!
    Beth

  • Hi Lauren,

    Thank you for continually offering outstanding information free of cost – it really helps! I own a couple of your DVDs and love them, of course. However, they do seem to be geared more toward conditioning and I’m hoping to add some pounds of muscle; this is where I think the above workout schedule will come in quite handy. Right now, my heaviest kettlebell is the 16kg and I don’t have any doubles. I’m thinking that I need some more KBs; do you suggest adding a bell that’s heavier than 16kg, or should I get another 12, 14, and/or 16kg in order to perform exercises such as the double KB deadlifts? Which ‘doubles’ would you recommend?

    Thank you for any input…and THANK YOU for always being so generous with your knowledge!

    Jessica

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